Thursday, May 25, 2017

Norwegian North Cape Cruise

North Cape and St. Petersburg Cruise

May/June 2017

May 24, Departure Day from Bellevue

Murphy was alive and working as we prepared to depart Bellevue via British Airways Flight 49.  After a visit to Patrick’s Mom, who goes in for a total hip replacement on the morning of the 25th, final preparations for departure proceeded, including mowing the lawn, set the sprinkler timers and finalizing the luggage packing.

We are taking Seabourn Cruise for a 21 day trip along the west coast of Norway above the Arctic Circle, and then back into the Baltic to visit St. Petersburg, Tallin, Helsinki and Stockholm before traveling back to Denmark for several days.  We are staying with Ted & Lisa Marx near Hou, and then finishing up back in Copenhagen.  Our ship is the Seabourn Quest, the same ship as our Antarctica trip.  We are going to be in suite 611 for this trip.

PSE is replacing the underground wiring in our neighborhood so access can be tricky and sometimes delayed.  The Shuttle Express driver arrived on time, however, but then told us about the numerous accidents and traffic jams between our house and all possible routes to the airport.

After a wild, and sometimes scary ride with the aggressive driver in heavy traffic, we arrived at the airport and were able to upgrade from business to first class.  British Airways does not have TSA pre-check, so we had to undergo the standard security screening, including the full body x-rays, physical pat-downs and an extensive search of Miriam’s carry-on luggage.  Something, or a combination of items triggered the explosive detectors.  Even her shoes and iphone tested positive, so it may have been a faulty detector.  The TSA supervisor gave Miriam some packing suggestions to avoid a problem in the future.

We finally made it to the BA lounge and Miriam repacked her carry-on to avoid a similar delay when arriving at Heathrow and transferring to the flight to Copenhagen.

After a glass of Shiraz, Murphy disappeared for a while and relaxation and anticipation of the upcoming month in Europe began.

What initially looked to be a late departure, due to the inbound aircraft arriving nearly two hours late, turned into an on-time departure.  Boarding the plane, we were escorted to our seats and offered sleep suits for the flight.  We both changed before departure.  Precisely at 1915 the 747-400 backed away from the gate and we took off.  There was moderate turbulence for the first hour, which made it hard to keep the rose champagne in the glasses, but that was the only minor issue as we shared dinner in one of our suites on board.  BA has modified the interiors somewhat and there is less shoulder room for the guest than in the past.  After a leisurely dinner we stretched out on the lay-flat beds for a few hours of sleep before breakfast was served.  As we prepared for arrival, the cabin crew presented us with a box of chocolates and a signed menu to celebrate our upcoming 45th wedding anniversary.

Enjoying appetizers on the way to London

May 25, 2017

The flight landed a little late, and we were taken by bus to bustling Terminal 5 where we underwent additional security screening before heading to the BA lounge.  This time Miriam’s luggage did not trigger any alarms, even though they did test her bag of liquids for explosives.

We only had about 15 minutes in the lounge before we headed for the connecting flight gate, which was at the opposite end of the sprawling Terminal 5 from the lounge.  The flight was full, the seats cramped and narrow, but at least we had an empty seat between us in the so-called business class.  The seat pitch was so tight that even Patrick’s knees touched the seat in front of him, and the gentleman behind Patrick had his knees pressing into the seat back the entire flight.

The flight departed on time and then spent 25 minutes waiting for a takeoff slot. A light snack was served to pass the time on the 90 minute flight to Copenhagen. The service on board made up for the cramped seating and even with the departure delay we arrived slightly ahead of schedule.

Completing  immigration formalities, which were quick, we headed to baggage claim where the wait for bags was very short.  Heading out the exit we met our driver who drove us through light traffic to the Admiral Hotel, right on the harbor.  We have stayed at the Admiral before, and it is a converted and restored grainery warehouse of brick and massive wood beams in the rooms, built in 1797.

Before leaving Bellevue we signed up for a "Day Pass" from AT&T, which is a good deal for international travel, so after phone calls to Bellevue we found that Patrick’s Mom’s hip surgery went well and we would be able to call tomorrow.

Stopping briefly in the room, we headed out and walked along the quay to the “Little Mermaid” sculpture, since the early evening light would be good for photos.  The light was good for photos, and also good at the largest monument in Copenhagen, the Gefionspringvandet, named after the goddess Gefion, who with her oxen plows Zealand out of Sweden.  By the time we returned to the hotel at 2000, the sun had passed below the horizon.

Little Mermaid at Langelinie

The Gefionspringvandet sculpture 

Returning to the hotel we decided to eat at “SALT” restaurant in the hotel and enjoyed a four course small plate offering which included poached white asparagus, baked lemon sole, salted melon and burrito and a grilled Iberico pork, all with interesting seasonings.  By now it was after 2200, but still evening twilight.  Patrick took a stroll to Nyhaven to locate our hotel when we return in late June.  There were still crowds eating outside at the many restaurants lining the harbor at Nyhaven, and with the long days and a holiday, the voices talking outside our hotel window continued until 0230.  There is no air conditioning at the hotel, but fans are provided and the windows open out facing the harbor.

The Admiral Hotel

Nyhaven at night